The F-35 Lightning managed to land safely at RAF Marham after experiencing a “minor technical issue”.
An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF can confirm an F35 Lightning experienced a minor technical issue during a routine flight last night. The aircraft landed safely.” An emergency squawk is used to identify an aircraft with a possible issue and enables it to have priority over other air traffic.
It does not necessarily mean the aircraft has an emergency, but flight safety is paramount and if there is any doubt pilots will recover to a suitable base or airfield as soon as possible.
This is not the first time there have been issues with the aircraft.
In October last year, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced that five of the UK’s 16 F-35B fighter jets required a replacement fuel tube after engine inspections – 20% of the fleet.
It came after the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) issued a global inspection of the fuel tube on all F-35 aircraft after a US F-35B crashed in South Carolina.
One of the nine operational aircraft at RAF Marham was affected by the problem.
The first of the multimillion-pound F-35s arrived at RAF Marham in June 2018 and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged the UK will buy 138 in total.
The planes will carry out missions and operations from both land and the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, and are considered cutting-edge in their technology and performances.
The aircrafts can reach a top speed of 1,200 mph and has “unprecedented” stealth capabilities, according to Lockheed Martin.
The short take-off and vertical landing planes, to be flown by RAF and Royal Navy pilots, will operate from the new £3billion aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
They will also operate from land-based runways, with RAF Marham having undergone a £250million upgrade to accommodate them.